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Robert Trigaux

Dangerous trend? Florida continues to lose people to other states, say census data



Williamfreybrookings Wake up and a happy Christmas Eve. Freshened population data show Florida is still losing people to other states --  this is domestic migration, not overall population -- as the wretched job market in the Sunshine State, the lure of other warm states, too many Floridians underwater on their mortgages and the stark inability of many wanna-be-Floridians up north who still can't sell their homes and move south all combine to take their toll.

So says new census data out this week and the insights of Brookings Institution demographer William Frey (see photo). In the year ending July 1, 2009, Florida -- once the top draw for Americans in search of work and warmer climes -- lost more than 31,000 residents to other states, the Census Bureau reported Wednesday.

Let's be clear. This does not mean Florida's overall population, which is also affected by births and international migrations, fell. The Census Bureau estimates (yes, these are estimates) say Florida gained 114,000 people between July 1, 2008 and July 1, 2009. That's right behind gains in Georgia (131,000), North Carolina (134,000), California (381,000) and, at the top, Texas (478,000).

While Texas gained the most in population, in the year ending July 2009 it also gained 143,423 more residents from other states than it lost, making it the nation's biggest draw for the fourth year in a row. Here's the Census Bureau announcement.

The real issue here is Florida continues to struggle to hold on to residents who are moving to other states, an emerging pattern that may represent a clear and present danger to the old Florida strategy of basing its economic development and tax structure on unwavering dollops of new growth. Here's what Frey says in a story in today's Wall Street Journal:

"The recession coupled with the mortgage meltdown stopped the dominant migration story of the last decade in its tracks. The real question is when the Sunbelt states are going to be able to come back. These new numbers suggest no end in sight."

Frey's created U.S. maps, shown below courtesy of the Wall Street Journal story, that show the shift in migration patterns among the states. Notice how Florida's gone from the biggest gainer from 2004 to 2005 to a net loser from 2008 to 2009. A serious trend to monitor closely.


-- Robert Trigaux, Times Business Columnist

[Last modified: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 11:26am]


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